If you’ve ever had anything to do with B2B software, you probably know that software that is built for large, complex organizations is often classified as “enterprise software.” Of course, in the world of software product marketing, we (and by we, I mean other people, not me) sometimes have a tendency to attach terms like “enterprise” to our products in order to trumpet them up as we go to market, regardless of whether or not the products actually qualify for these vaunted descriptors. While there is no standards body that governs the use of the term enterprise, customers generally expect products to have certain attributes in order to ensure that a product or service meets the needs of large, sophisticated organizations—enterprises.

Scalability. Large organizations generally run very large-scale operations and therefore require systems that can keep up with their needs. That means having the capacity to keep up with large numbers of users and a heavy stream of activity. Big brands don’t generally take risks on critical infrastructure that is not well proven—especially when it comes to measuring the impact of their massive marketing investments to drive visitors to screens with the ultimate goal of getting them to convert. This is why in their recently published report, the Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q2 2014, Forrester Research weighed the number of “enterprise-class” companies who are using the vendor’s web analytics products very heavily into their scoring criteria. Adobe Analytics is one of the largest SaaS product offerings in the world. With more than 140,000 active users, the system—which spans more than 20,000 servers in Adobe data centers around the globe—processes nearly 7 trillion transactions per year.

Integration. While Adobe primarily builds software to serve the needs of marketers, make no mistake, IT is always involved in the procurement and implementation of our products because the gear we sell becomes part of the larger organization’s computing infrastructure. In order to coexist with the other technology investments an organization has made, modern enterprise systems and services are expected to be able to interface with each other, even if they were not originally designed to work together. This is typically enabled through open APIs and standards-based interfaces. In addition, enterprise software products in nearly any mature market category are generally expected to have developed purpose-built integrations with other common technologies customers use with them. Because marketing analytics software is at the heart of any marketing technology stack, it is expected to work with a number of other marketing applications, including email, campaign management, CRM, advertising, and testing and targeting to name a few. Often discussed as ties into the greater “marketing ecosystem,” integration was a critical factor in the ratings Forrester gave analytics vendors in the Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q2 2014. Forrester scored vendors based on their depth of both APIs and the “complementary applications” with which vendors integrate closely.

Data Portability and Management. In a world where nobody seems to be able to give a talk at an industry conference or write a blog post or magazine article without using the word “Big Data” (ugh, apparently me included), it is critical for organizations to be able to leverage the way incremental data sets enrich the marketer’s view of their customers and prospective customers. To do this, marketers must be able to utilize powerful tools to visualize, analyze, and manipulate their data. The obvious prerequisite for that is for these powerful tools to be able to actually gain access to the data. This has implications both on the ways and types of data that can be ingested (see my prior point on integrations) and on the way data is consumed. Adobe’s philosophy is that your data is, well, yours. So you should be able to work with it wherever you want—if you want to export the data, fine; you want to put the data into a visualization tool (one of ours or one you build some other way), no problem; you want reports, done. The recent Forrester Wave report asked vendors a number of questions about data portability in its assessment of the players in the industry:

  • What level of data portability is available to the users?
  • What types of data can be exported from the product (raw data, aggregated data, reports, etc.)?
  • How far back in time can each of the data sets be exported?
  • How long would it take to port a typical enterprise customer’s full data set from the product?
  • What tools are in place to aid the porting of data?
  • Can users readily port the data themselves at no extra cost from the vendor?
  • What level of support is there from the vendor and/or services partners to port the data?

These are just three of the dozens of categories of nuanced requirements serious organizations should be requiring of vendors to ensure they are well-equipped to meet their needs. For a more comprehensive list, I strongly recommend reaching out to Forrester, which offers clients a number of comprehensive vendor evaluation tools.